Senate bill seeks to ban Big Tech from rigging search results

Tech giants like Amazon and Google would be banned from rigging search results to favor their own products under new legislation that a bipartisan group of US senators revealed on Thursday.

News of the bill, which is sponsored by the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate’s antitrust committee, comes just one day after a bombshell Reuters investigation revealed that Amazon allegedly used data on third-party sellers to come up with ideas for its own labels in India — then rigged search results to favor the knockoffs.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), the bill’s top Democratic sponsor and the chair of the Senate’s antitrust subcommittee, said the legislation is needed to rein in Big Tech.

“As dominant digital platforms — some of the biggest companies our world has ever seen — increasingly give preference to their own products and services, we must put policies in place to ensure small businesses and entrepreneurs still have the opportunity to succeed in the digital marketplace,” Klobuchar said in a statement.

Amazon has pushed back against the Reuters investigation of data to rip off third-party sellers — and Jeff Bezos himself told Congress last year that the company doesn’t engage in the practice.

Jeff Bezos told the House Judiciary Committee last July that Amazon doesn’t rig its search-engine results.
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Other sponsors of the antitrust bill, which is called the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, include Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley, Lindsey Graham, John Kennedy and Cynthia Lummis — as well as Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin, Richard Blumenthal and Cory Booker.

In addition to stopping Amazon from ripping off third-party sellers and rigging search results, the bill would prevent Google from prioritizing its own products over rivals in search results.

For example, Google would be banned from giving its “Google Meet” product priority over Zoom when users search for videoconferencing services.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar co-sponsored the new bill just one day after a Reuters investigation revealed Amazon allegedly used data on third-party sellers to generate product ideas — then rigged the search results to favor the knockoffs.
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The Chamber of Progress — a trade group sponsored by Amazon, Google and Facebook — slammed the proposed legislation in an email to The Post.

“This bill takes a hammer to tech products that consumers love,” said the group’s CEO and former Google executive Adam Kovacevich, who claimed without evidence that the bill would prevent Amazon from selling Amazon Basics products altogether.

The Senate legislation is similar to a bipartisan House bill that passed the chamber’s judiciary committee in June.

Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, listens during a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing in Washington.
Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, listens during a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing in Washington.
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Senator Amy Klobuchar is the bill's top Democratic sponsor.
Senator Amy Klobuchar is the bill’s top Democratic sponsor.
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The bill is one of many antitrust proposals floating around on Capitol Hill. Thus far none have become law although one, a broader measure to increase resources for antitrust enforcers, has passed the Senate.

With Post wires